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US private hiring beats expectations in February: ADP

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Hiring by private US companies again beat expectations in February, pointing to continued robust health of the labor market, according to a survey released Wednesday.

[WASHINGTON] Hiring by private US companies again beat expectations in February, pointing to continued robust health of the labor market, according to a survey released Wednesday.

Private companies hired 183,000 new workers in February, far stronger than the 175,000 economists were expecting, the survey showed, according to payroll services firm ADP.

The report is scrutinized for hints of the direction of the crucial government jobs report due out Friday, and despite frequent deviations, the data seem to confirm a solid but slowing job market.

Firms that produce goods added 44,000 while the dominant services sector hired 139,000, both sharply lower than the prior month.

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Hiring in January was revised up to 300,000, the highest since February 2006, according to ADP, which originally reported a 213,000 gain.

"Job gains are still strong, but they have likely seen their high watermark for this expansion," said Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Analytics.

"The economy has throttled back and so too has job growth," he said in a statement.

Ian Shepherdson of Pantheon Macroeconomics said the ADP result likely overstates the official figures, which will see the effects of the five-week government shutdown.

"We think the January official number was elevated by favorable weather effects and double-counting of federal government workers taking second jobs during the shutdown," he said in a research note.

"Looking ahead, the trend in labor demand appears consistent with payroll growth in the high 100s."

AFP